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Success Stories

Seizing ‘that’ inspiration moment with the 2019 Telstra Business Awards Queensland finalists

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Each successful business experiences ‘that’ inspiration moment – a concept for a new venture, discovering an untapped niche, an idea to transform the way things are, a problem in need of a solution. ‘That’ moment is where the journey of creating a sustainable, prosperous business begins.

Here, a collection of 2019 Telstra Business Awards finalists from Queensland tell us what inspired their start-up – from ‘aha’ moments on hospital wards to stories of personal tragedy, and a bit of input from good old mum. Plus, how that initial inspiration continues to drive their business success.

'That’ inspiration from 21st-century learning: Michael Holmstrom, STEM Punk Ventures

“Our mission is to inspire tomorrow’s innovators and enable a mindset based on innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship – solving tomorrow’s problems today. The inspiration behind STEM Punks came from spending 15 years in the innovation and commercialisation space. 

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“I found myself reaching a moment in my life when I wanted to share this knowledge to enable the next generation of innovators.” 

“The ‘aha’ moment came when observing the current education system and noticing major gaps in the market – a gap to bridge between what we teach today and the needs of 21st-century learners.

“We often go back to our core brand message and mission when looking for answers to problems or solutions to challenges. As a team we know that keeping the customer at the heart of everything we do is always the right decision. This keeps us inspiring, doing, and persisting.”

Michael Holmstrom is the program director at STEM Punk Ventures, an organisation that provides STEM education programs to inspire tomorrow’s innovators. STEM Punk Ventures is a finalist in the Emerging & Energised category.

‘That’ inspiration from community (and mum): Brentyn Parkin, Community Information Support Services

“There are thousands of great organisations and services out there in the community that are doing amazing things, but they are hard to find online – especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Community Information Support Services’ vision is to see better health and social outcomes across Australia by connecting vulnerable Australians with essential services.

“The inspiration moment came when my mum couldn’t find information about ways she could get involved in her community.”

“Then I realised we could create technology to bring this information together. This information would not only benefit my mum, but councils and community organisations and help people connect with each other.

“We continue to travel and visit local communities around Australia and meet people just like my mum, to make sure they can find the right information at the right time and in the right format so they can connect to their community.”

Brentyn Parkin is the executive director of Community Information Support Services, a not-for-profit online platform connecting individuals to health information and services. Community Information Support Services is a finalist in the Social Change Maker category.    

Essential tips for making the most of ‘that’ moment
  • “Pull the trigger! You will never be 100% fully primed to start, and if you wait you may miss your opportunity. Once you know you have a great business idea and most of the details sorted, then pull the trigger and get into it. Solve any issues on the run.“ – Tim Gold, director, Gold Property Partners
  • “Don't look back, only forward. Focus less on what people around you are doing and focus more on what you can do to make your business successful.“ – Jae Fraser, managing director, Little Scholars School of Early Learning
  • “Start with culture. Think about your ideal company culture, and what your core values are before building your team. You can then hire and form a team around these key attributes and set the culture from day one.“ – Alexandra Gannon, general manager, Reload Media

’That’ inspiration to reduce poverty: Selena Tomasich, Hair Aid

“Ten years ago, I was holidaying in Manila and realised that extreme poverty could be addressed by teaching employable skills. In response to this idea, I created Hair Aid.

“It came to me when two nuns in Manila opened my eyes to how I could use my skills to help others live a better life. I had access to resources and people who could make a difference.

“After the first trip I realised asking these people to travel hours for training was not going to be sustainable for them. So we now go to the people who need our help, in their communities.

“When I started Hair Aid, I had not planned on it becoming a global entity; if I had, I would have put in place other systems and processes. I started it with my skills in corporate and academia, with access to students who were looking for real-life experience.

“Everything Hair Aid does is driven by its mission to change the world one haircut at a time. That will never change.”

Selina Tomasich is the CEO of Hair Aid, a not-for-profit organisation addressing extreme poverty by teaching employable skills. Hair Aid is a finalist in the Social Change Maker category.

‘That’ inspiration to overcome tragedy and thrive: Dr David Dugan, Abundance Global

“Abundance Global helps socially conscious business owners and entrepreneurs do what they love and achieve things they never thought possible.

“I began my career as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy. During deployment for the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami that hit Indonesia, I lost nine of my teammates when a helicopter, that I was meant to be on, crashed.

“I got a second chance at life, and from that moment forward I decided to make a bigger impact on the world. My inspiration was born.” 

“I decided that, by helping them be successful, I could inspire entrepreneurs to contribute a portion of that success to social causes globally.

“We are driven to create a better world, especially for our children and their future. To inspire them to dream big, have no regrets and live life to its fullest. Every single week, as part of our daily meeting rhythm, the team and I review our mission statement and what it means to us. This ritual keeps the spirit of my initial inspiration alive.” 

Dr David Dugan is the CEO and founder of Abundance Global, an education, mentoring and support community for socially conscious business owners. Abundance Global is a finalist in the Small & Succeeding category.

’That’ inspiration to keep people healthy: Dr Philip Wuth, The Doctor’s Kitchen Australia

“At The Doctor’s Kitchen Australia, our main goal is to prevent disease, maximise quality of life, and keep people out of hospital.

“After leaving university brimming with theoretical knowledge, I entered the hospital system and soon became disillusioned by the preventable disease that filled the wards. 

“Many times I thought that if someone had helped this person years ago, they would not be lying here now.”

“In general practice I was able to practise preventive medicine at the coalface. This experience led to further work in lifestyle and anti-ageing medicine. This all led to the realisation that much of our health and well-being revolves around more than just weight.

“This inspired the core rationale of The Doctor’s Kitchen Australia: enhancing health and preventing disease by optimising body composition – that is, decreasing fat and increasing lean muscle mass.”

Dr Phillip Wuth is the CEO of The Doctor’s Kitchen Australia, on organisation offering a doctor-prescribed medical weight loss meal program. The Doctor’s Kitchen Australia is a finalist in the Small & Succeeding category.


Every business has had ‘that’ moment 

Read the moments that shaped the 2019 Telstra Business Awards state finalists from across Australia.


Share the fruits of ‘that’ inspiration moment with the world.

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